California assembly committee approves same-sex marriage bill (12142)


California assembly committee approves same-sex marriage bill

An assembly committee Tuesday approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in California, although the bill's sponsor said such a "milestone event" didn't change what will be a difficult fight to pass it in the full legislature.

Assemblyman Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat and the bill's author, said it is the first time a legislative body has voted to support gay marriage. "I saw in the eight aye votes a great pride in the fact that people were standing up for civil rights--not special privileges, but civil rights," Leno said.

The proposal, which would amend the state family code to define marriage as between "two persons" instead of between a man and a woman, was passed by the assembly judiciary committee by an 8-3 vote after more than an hour of debate.

Opponents of the bill said it would contradict the will of the voters, who passed Proposition 22 in 2000, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. "This is something that should be decided in the courts before it ever comes here," said Assemblywoman Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), who voted against the measure. "I think it trivializes the will of the people."

But supporters said the legislature was within its rights to act on such a bill before the courts decide. "I think it is important to note that we as the legislature have the ability to make the laws, and in fact I do believe that it is definitely within our jurisdiction to define what is marriage," said Assemblywoman Ellen Corbett, a Democrat from San Leandro and the committee chairwoman.

The bill now heads to the appropriations committee, where it will be put in a suspension file while its cost to the general fund is determined, Leno said. Read the bill, AB1967, at


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